Make Do And Mend

Sherborne Museum

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In The Home
Everyday Life
South East
1944 - 1944

"We were living in Chiswick, London W4. I remember the night of 19th February 1944 – at 1.15am! There were two high explosive bombs dropped on the Chiswick High Road, and Dukes Avenue – 3 dead, 9 injuries and 4 minor injuries. The second bomb hit the Red Arrow Garage, Chiswick Common Road, there were 6 serious injuries and 2 minor injuries. [this information taken from the wartime incident book at Chiswick Library]. This was the night that myself and the family would never forget. There was my father, mother, sister Elaine brother Roy, and myself. My elder sister Rita had already married and was living in Shepherds Bush, whilst my brother Andrew was fighting with the Eighth Army.
Having had a hectic week at work and school we all decided that we would go to bed and not face the trauma of carrying our bedding and other essentials to the large underground shelter on Turnham Green. Living over a shop we had to use this shelter all through the war. So the thought of a nice Friday night in our own beds, sounded very attractive, so that is what we did. I think that we had about two hours sleep when the siren sounded, at the same time my father had woken up and changed into his Home Guard Uniform and said “you’d all better get dressed and go to the shelter”. He then left us and went down the stairs (there were 20 of them) to report for duty. Within seconds he came rushing back 'Quick get out as quick as you can they’ve dropped flares and we’re a target!' Before any of us could make a decision, fate and the Nazis, decided for us – the whole house shook and the lights went out. It was very dark. We were still in our night clothes, not able to even find a coast. We were all in the front room, the front room door was hanging in a dangerous position with my sister trying to get out of the room as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, she pushed the door on to me and I was not hurt but at the same time large lumps of plaster came falling from the ceiling and one large lump hit me on the head.
It was very frightening – too dangerous to stay – so we had to get out. My poor mother, crying with fright, was also upset that the new dentures she had bought that day would be lost – and about Bobby (our cat) who was out in the raid at that time.
Now our Dad was trying to get us to safety, so got us all to the head of the stairs, only to find horror of horrors, there were no stairs there. All that was left was a mountain of bricks and rubble which we had to climb down the best way we could, sliding on our bottoms (if I remember correctly) and when we reached the bottom and got into the yard below there were also mountains of bricks etc.
The Garage behind us was furiously burning. A sight from hell. We did learn later that the blast had blown a motor cycle through the attic window, and was laying on my brother’s bed. Fortunately, he was in the Army at that time.
There were also small cottages damaged in Chiswick Common Road and Fishers Lane, and also a delayed action bomb was laying outside Chiswick Police Station. Certainly a night never to be forgotten. Everything is as clear to me now as if it were only yesterday!
We were out, and we were so thankful to be alive. We were met by a group of very kind and sympathetic air raid wardens, who told Dad that he would have to find us other accommodation because our flat was in a dangerous condition. We were not allowed back in, not even to collect a coat or two. We were asked if any one was hurt and my father told them that I had a head injury, so I was whisked off to a Red Cross centre for observation over night. Fortunately my injury was not serious but I had two lovely black eyes and a very swollen forehead for a couple of weeks. I looked like a Panda! The remainder of the family then had to walk to Shepherds Bush where my sister Rita lived. My Dad was carrying my 12 year old brother on his back as he had no shoes on his feet and all of them walked along with the raid still going on above their heads! They were exhausted when they surprised my sister at that early hour of the morning, but she made them very welcome.
After about a year we were allowed back into our newly decorated flat and found that all we had left behind was either lost, stolen or beyond repair. But the greatest insult to my father was to receive a bill from the Gas and Electric companies asking payment for the gas and electric used before we were bombed out! All they actually got was an extremely angry letter from my father, together with a firm refusal to pay! We did not know that while we were away the meters had all been broken into and the money stolen. As if we had not suffered enough!
Mine is only one memory out of many. We thanked God that we had a very lucky escape and Bobby the cat turned up sometime later – another one of his nine lives had gone!
1944 was a very unhappy year for us. In September we heard the bad news that my brother Andrew had been killed at Monte Cassino, Italy."
London

Muriel Greene

In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"Relations of the late Miss Adeline Mitchell also gave this certificate to the museum, sent to Adeline's mother, Mrs E Mitchell, after the war. To date we know little about its history. It thanks Mrs Mitchell for opening her house to strangers during the early years of the war. It may be a thankyou for taking in evacuees although we do not hold any similar certificates and would appreciate more information about it. The museum holds more memories from former residents of Coombe Terrace and their evacuees"
Dorset

Miss Adeline Mitchell

In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"Relations of the late Miss Adeline Mitchell who lived at Coombe Terrace, Sherborne have donated this certificate to the museum collection. Adeline was thanked by the Duke of Gloucester for contributing to the 'Penny a Week Fund' for the Red Cross of St John during the war."
Dorset

Miss Adeline Mitchell

Food and Cooking
In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"Dorothy Wise is the granddaughter of William Ingram who was Headmaster of Sherborne, Abbey School, Dorset. Her mother, Eva Ingram was the second of his six children and was born in Sherborne in 1880. William Ingram was said to be a man of vision who inspired and developed education in North Dorset and his daughter Eva was said to be a born teacher. Eva attended Lord Digby's School in the town and in her spare time assisted at her father's school in the Infants Department, where she spent a year as a pupil teacher at the age of 18 and taught until she was fully occupied with her own young family, Dorothy being the youngest. In the 1930s Eva decided it was time to start her own school and her search took them to Chandlers Ford, Hampshire. A large house was found to rent and the name chosen – 'Sherborne House' school. The school still exists today and has a web site. Dorothy was there during the outbreak of war and Chapter three of her book 'Sherborne House School' is devoted to the school in the war years.
Dorothy recalls no one was actually frightened when war was declared. They already knew about air raids and the threat of gas. When the children returned to school Dorothy and her sister organised games wearing the gas masks and practice air-raid procedures were regularly practiced. Nothing at all actually happened 'Nothing at all happened on the home front. It was just a time of waiting, and wondering when the storm would break.' Almost immediately the school had a sudden influx of pupils as some families decided to move outside of Southampton. Fathers were called up and mothers found they no longer had the domestic help they had been used to and could not cope so decided to send their children away to school.
'The first winter went by without food rationing' and by the following June some parents were asking for the school to be evacuated to a safer location. 'The south coast ports were full of exhausted soldiers evacuated from Dunkirk'. The decision was taken to accept an invitation from a family friend to evacuate to the then Girls Boarding School, Blackdown School at Wellington, Somerset. The move was planned for the following Saturday!"
Sherborne, Dorset

Dorothy Wise

Food and Cooking
In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"Life at Blackdown School was very peaceful. 'food was still plentiful and we certainly had plenty of eggs and milk but rationing had started.' However she adds after a few weeks in the countryside and regular country walks the children developed enormous appetites! The enemy was not far away for while the children slept Dorothy and her sister attempted to behind closed curtains but they could hear the drone of German bombers on their way to Bristol, Wales and the Midlands. Finally as invasion seemed less likely the decision was taken to return to Chandler’s Ford amidst fears that their house would be commandeered by the army if it remained empty for too long.
Dog fights were common in the skies overhead and although pupil numbers were down on return they soon went up as people moved out of Southampton. The blackout was in force and all village and town name signs and signposts had been removed. Gas masks had to be carried to school. Dorothy trained as a Fire guard instructor. German planes flew overhead at night and nights were extremely noisy. There was also the roar of anti-aircraft guns, several being located close to Chandler’s Ford and shrapnel would fall. During the winter of 1940 – 41 raids increased on Southampton and the city centre lay in ruins. Every evening people would leave the city for safety in the surrounding area and the school often gave shelter to strangers who were passing by. In 1944 and 1945 Dorothy spent her summer holidays working in the harvest fields. She was a keen rider and used to horses so the giant Shires posed no problem at all and she was pleased to assist with stoking sheaves of corn, horse-raking the fields and working on the ricks ‘ we became more aware of the need to grown as much food as possible’. Occasionally they would see a German plane fly over the fields when they were hard at work.
The doodle-bugs were the most frightening thing they experienced and Dorothy recalls Chandler's Ford being one of the furthest places west that was affected by them, one falling near Kingsway and one in Pine Road, killing several people and completely blowing out the windows of the school.
In the summer of 1944 there was great activity. Chandler's Ford was quite wooded and hundreds of amphibious vehicles were parked under the trees on both sides of the road, completely invisible from above – and then suddenly before 6th June they were suddenly gone. Invasion was underway. Convoys of soldiers passed through and were often parked outside the school gates – and lorries of ammunition! Americans were generous with sweets and chocolate – treats unknown for so long. May 8th 1945 arrived and news of Victory in Europe so the children who were just arriving were sent home as a holiday had been declared. Only the older pupils could remember a time when there hadn’t been a war.’"
Somerset and Southampton

Dorothy Wise

In The Home
Everyday Life
Midlands
South West
1939 - 1945

"Friends of the late Helen Margaret Godsell Twitchett would like her name recorded in the Make do and Mend Project. Peggy died in June 2011 aged 101. Miss Twitchett was born in Gloucester and only moved away for a short period. For many years she worked at the former Holloway’s clothing factory in Brick Row, Stroud where she worked as the telephone switchboard operator including the first year of the Second World War. Then she left to work at Stroud Railway Station where she was employed as Goods Clerk. During the war her first boyfriend, a sailor, was killed and Peggy never married, remaining as Goods Clerk for 29 years before retiring. Peggy moved in to live with her Gran on Stroud's Paganhill Estate which had just been completed by the war and remained there for 70 years until she was 98."
Gloucester

Peggy Twitchett

In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"Fred Knight met Eva Burrough at Nether Compton church when they both sang in the choir and where in later years Fred played the organ. Fred had won a scholarship to the boys grammar school at Sherborne. There was no school transport and no grant so Fred used to walk the three miles to school each day and when he was 16 he went into the building trade. When Eva left school she worked at Brecon House, Sherborne as a cook until they got married. Theirs was a wartime wedding at Nether Compton church, Eva's family having moved to the village when she was a teenager, but there was no honeymoon because of the war. Shortly afterwards Fred joined the Royal Artillery but was invalided out and finished the war at the Officers Pay Corps in Manchester before returning to the building trade."
Nether Compton, Dorset

Fred Knight

In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
1933 - 1945

"Corrie was born at Berry Court Farm, Donhead St Andrew in 1909 and first married in 1933 but her husband was sadly killed in a motorbike accident in 1936. During the war, on Christmas Day 1941 she married Charlie Conduit and is remembered for her war time work at Guys Marsh Military Hospital which has led to her lifelong support of the Red Cross."
Shaftesbury, Dorset

Corrie Conduit
Friends of Corrie Conduit of Shaftesbury have asked that she should me mentioned.

Do you remember having to make do and mend? Please submit your experiences.